To refer to this Hallertau family as a hop dynasty is no exaggeration. Josefa and Josef Bachmeier are both from farming families who have been cultivating hops for at least nine generations. This husband and wife team brought together two traditional farms in Gasseltshausen and Oberpindhart, and now manage a family farm with around 75 acres given over to growing hops.
As a former businesswoman and a trained farmer, the couple’s skills and expertise are the perfect match. And if all the tradition and heritage weigh heavy on their shoulders, what sets the Bachmeiers apart is their focus on the future. The family approaches the challenges facing the hop-growing industry with a mix of optimism, willingness to experiment and state-of-the-art equipment inside and out.
Getting down to basics, why do you farm hops? What motivates you to get up and head out to the fields in the morning?
“There’s an old saying that when a hop scratches you it stays with you for life. And the reverse is also true. If your heart's not in the job, you should really be doing something else. Often the reality is that you need to be on alert 24 hours a day, watching every cloud and literally fearing for the future of the entire crop. Hops are extremely sensitive to the weather. There's another old saying that hops like to see their master every day. But that also means that you are always close by, watching your plants as they grow and ripen. That and many other things, , such as the spring clear-out, are just wonderful experiences.”
“There’s an old saying that when a hop scratches you it stays with you for life.”
Would you say you have hops in your genes?
“Absolutely. Both my mother-in-law and my father are still firmly part of the business, while our 10 and 11-year old children are already joining in and growing into their roles. However, we cannot take that for granted any more. Many young people born into this tradition don’t want to carry on. That’s why we are investing so heavily. The next generation of farmers should inherit a farm that is properly set up for the future. Roles within the family need to move with the times too. Unfortunately, as a woman taking my share of responsibility for the business and sitting on the BarthHaas Growers’ Council, for example, I’m still the exception rather than the rule."
What new paths is your farm exploring?
“As a partner in a BarthHaas project, we are trying out new forms of soil conservation and irrigation. We are sowing other plants in between the rows of hops to find out how our crop can be adapted to climate change. Hop farmers are already noticing clear changes in rain levels. Another long-standing topic is the situation around pesticides. The list of permitted products is getting shorter and shorter."
What do you think of the cooperation with BarthHaas?
“BarthHaas provides us with the best and most up-to-date information. We use the Growers’ Portal almost every day. Projects like “Hops 2030”, which accurately measure the take-up of nutrients by the plants are also really good. We need this sort of data to be ready to face the challenges of the future. In addition to the agricultural and market expertise, we are also currently discovering BarthHaas’ courses for brewers and flavor. I think it will be increasingly important for us as growers to understand what breweries want. And thanks to the Hops Academy training, Josefa’s father has become a committed home brewer. A lot of valuable knowledge is flowing into our business!”
What about criticisms?
“The buyers at BarthHaas are very easy to work with. If something is not quite right I can tell them straight away and they’re always open to suggestions.”
Bachmeier GbR (Schrimpfhof farm in Oberpindhart / Gorlhof farm in Gasseltshausen)
Hallertau designated growing region, Mainburg certification district
Ninth-generation family business
Hop production area:
Around 75 acres
Hallertau Tradition, Perle, Spaulter Select, Monroe, Herkules, Mandarina Bavaria